DREAM Act Protestors March in San Francisco

Richard Duboc

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Across the state, students are taking to the streets in support of the DREAM Act.

On Friday, Dec. 3, hundreds of students from Bay Area colleges, along with supporters from all over the country, marched from the Federal Building in San Francisco to Senator Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) office. Although Feinstein co-authored the DREAM Act, protestors believe that she and her cohorts in Congress are not doing enough to get it passed.

The recent demonstrations are in response to the events unfolding on Capital Hill in Washington D.C., where Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) are feverishly trying to push the legislation through Congress before Republicans take control of the House of Representatives on Jan. 3, 2011.

As of yet, Reid is two votes short of the necessary 60 in the Senate to get it passed.

The DREAM Act has other powerful supporters. President Obama is an ardent supporter of the bill, calling it “central to the American Dream,” adding, “it’s the right thing to do.”

Marching down Market Street through the heart of downtown San Francisco, the crowd echoed the sentiments of the president.

“There are a lot of students who want to do is give back to their community,” said Carlos Garcia, who was helping to direct the protest in support of undocumented college students. Garcia believes that education should not be reserved for a select few and that the United States should not be preventing people from gaining an education, because, “a nation that is uneducated is bound to fail.”

“Education, not deportation!” chanted the crowd, as its numbers swelled on the corner of Montgomery and Market Streets outside of Feinstein’s office.

One such student facing deportation is City College of San Francisco student Steven Li, who was recently released from a federal detention facility in Arizona. Li is currently waiting in limbo and will need the DREAM Act to pass in order to prevent being deported to Peru.

Students in Phoenix, Arizona are even conducting a hunger strike outside the office of Senator John McCain (D-Ariz.) in support of the DREAM Act, which would give illegal aliens six years to obtain two years’ worth of college courses or military service.

“My dream is to be a doctor,” read the sign of one of the demonstrators.

Margally Mirand was at the rally to support her older brother who, unlike her, was not born in this country. His dream is to be a math teacher.

“To me, this is a question of my life,” said Mirand, “It’s outrageous that second–class citizenship is placed on immigrants.” Like others in attendance, Mirand had traveled from Los Angeles, where other DREAM Act rallies have been staged.

Jose Luis believes that the DREAM Act has become the focus of a larger phenomenon.

“There’s going to be a new civil rights movement,” said Luis. As he sees it, “these people are coming to the streets because they’re tired of politicians not doing their job.”

Support for the DREAM Act seems to be gaining momentum-however, most Republicans in Congress under the leadership of Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) remain firmly opposed. For now, the 2.1 million illegal immigrants which the Migration Policy Institute has estimated could apply for citizenship under the DREAM Act will have to wait and see.

“This is the land of opportunity,” said Itzel Aguilar, as she looked on. “Education is an opportunity and to deny people that right is a crime.” Like many, Aguilar is tired of waiting for things to change, and is now taking action.